Michael Douglas and Matt Damon connect beautifully as star -crossed lovers: Liberace (1919-1987) and Scott Thorson (1959-). Flamboyantly talented and weirdly, wildly famous Liberace capitalized on his skill as a pianist in combination with his outrageously creative style; encased in plumage, furs, jewelry, capes, rhinestone studded boots, he epitomized the “bling” in bling. His fingers flew like diaphanous feathers across the keys, creating a joyous musical concoction of classical, jazz and contemporary scores. He was magnificently, outlandishly unique at a time when homosexuality was ignored; in retrospect he was a force in erasing intransigent barriers. Michael Douglas is titillating, magnetic in capturing the brilliant, tragic, monumentally lonely, gifted entertainer; he is engaging, “camp”, sensitive to the man and his inimitable showmanship.
Matt Damon, as pudgy, pubescent “Scott Thorson” forty years younger than Liberace is perfect as the boy -toy that, in Pygmalion fashion, Liberace sculpts into the optimum sycophant; gifts of “gold, frankincense and myrrh” and plastic surgery lend a “Stepford”, sacred, quality to the child who worshipped the master. A relationship doomed to the ephemeral; Liberace for all his infectious, playful exuberance was a stringent professional, never distracted from what he needed as much, if not more, than personal intimacy, the indissoluble adulation from his audience; pathetically, Scott never focused on adulthood; languishing in desultory, drug-addicted, arrested development.
Director Steven Sonderberg and superb actors courageously, without sensationalism or guile, gift viewers a glimpse into a relationship, a partnership, universally applicable; full of peaks and valleys, cornucopias, droughts, exponentially thriving or dying.
THREE & 1/2 STARS